Saturday, July 31, 2004

Upon Further Review...

I've had a few hours to think about this trade, and, while I still don't like it on paper, I'm willing to concede that it doesn't completely suck donkey testicles. Fact is, before today the 2004 Sox were 41-39 since mid-May. They were an awful defensive team with one of the least athletic rosters in baseball. They have added Gold Glove athletes at shortstop and first base, and picked up a very fast, very defensively adept outfielder in Dave Roberts (acquired from the Dodgers for spare parts). It is a plain and simple fact that they are no longer the best offensive team in the American League, but that distinction wouldn't have amounted to a hill of beans - they'd miss the playoffs if the season ended today. At the very least, they will likely not kick away many more games with bush-league defensive lapses - though they'll find themselves fondly remembering the series when they scored 27 runs in 3 games against the Yankees.

This trade shifts an enormous amount of pressure on the heretofore unsteady shoulders of one Derek Lowe. He, more than any other Sox pitcher, was burdened by the miserable defense the Sox ran out every night. Now, he'll conceivably be looking at Mueller, Cabrera, Reese, and Mientkiewicz across the infield - if that isn't Chicken Soup for the Flaky Righthander's Soul, I don't know what is. That said, if he's betting big on Lowe, this trade is basically Theo Epstein pushing all his chips into the middle of the table and hoping the dealer completes his straight flush on the River.

But with all that said, all the logic expended, I still am so very disappointed to see Nomar leave Boston. I lied a few days ago - he's my all-time favorite Sox player, and even though I should know better, I held out hope that he'd be on the field when the Sox finally won a title. I love the way he plays the game - gracefully, powerfully, grittily, all-out-all-the-time. I love his name, for Chrissakes. I love that he never seemed to be the stereotypical superstar, that he was quiet, reserved, introspective. I love that he's better than Derek Jeter, and that I could always shout a Yankee fan into submission because I knew the numbers that proved it.

I'm 34 years-old, well past the age of hero-worship. I understand that baseball is a business and that I basically root for the laundry. I do. And even though that's true, I will feel very conflicted when the Chicago Cubs take the field tomorrow and this big-nosed guy with an athletic gait bounds out of the dugout, kicking the toes of his spikes into the turf, number 5 across his pinstriped back as he sprints to his familar position on an unfamiliar diamond. I've never had a second-favorite team before, but odds are about even that I'll own a Cubs hat before I post again. They'll never be the Red Sox, but, then again, they've got Nomar.

No comments: